Catch Me If You Can: The 10 Most Elusive QBs in NFL History
If you were to ask people to write a list of the hottest properties in football right now, two names featured on almost every ballot would be Michael Vick and Cameron Newton.
Vick has given his career a post-prison shot of adrenaline with some incredible displays of agility and athletic prowess, rightfully earning him the starting QB job in Philadelphia and a large amount of well-earned media fanfare.
The reason for this?
Vick is one of, if not the most exciting player in the NFL right now, putting on a masterclass in athletic quarterbacking in 2010 in heart-in-your-mouth games like "The Miracle at New Meadowlands." While the jury's still out on whether Mike Vick is an elite QB, he's undoubtedly one of the finest scramblers the league has ever seen.
With the 2011 NFL Draft coming up and new talent Cam Newton regarded as the next big thing in fast, athletic, elusive quarterbacking, it is only right that we look back at some of the greatest dancers on the gridiron: the NFL's all-time most elusive quarterbacks.
10. Ben Roethlisberger
Rush Yards: 874
Rushing Touchdowns: 14
Big Ben Roethlisberger is someone I came very close to excluding from this list. He may be able to extend plays and the fact that he's the size of a big redwood makes him very hard to bring down, but does that make him elusive?
He's more Fridge than DeSean, shall we say.
The fine line between elusiveness and stability is something that Roethlisberger traverses in an incredibly exciting manner. There isn't a football fan out there who wouldn't like their QB to have the poise and stability of Big Ben, but don't take my word for it.
In January, New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan gushed about Roethlisberger, saying, "I've never seen a guy take the hits he can take and also make people miss the way he does and be as accurate on the run."
He may not have the speed of Vick but he sure as hell can make some plays, with two Superbowl rings to prove it.
9. Kordell Stewart
Rush Yards: 2874
Rushing Touchdowns: 38
Another Pittsburgh Steeler graces our Top Ten here, and it's probably the only time Kordell Stewart will rank above Big Ben Roethlisberger in Steelers' history. The man known as "Slash" may not have been the greatest QB to play the game, but he sure could move.
Unfortunately for Stewart, he had the prowess to line up just about anywhere on the field, and often did due to his underwhelming quarterbacking.
However, Stewart did provide a significant threat in terms of elusiveness as his running ability was something to behold, with a career long of 80 yards against the Panthers.
8. Steve McNair
Rush Yards: 3,590
Rushing Touchdowns: 37
Steve McNair had undeniable elusiveness, burning the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a 70-yard scamper then notching a career-long 95 yard rushing TD in the same game.
Steve's ability to make plays garnered him the apt nickname "Air McNair." In his 13-year career he led both the Ravens and the Titans into the playoffs, taking Tennessee to within an arm's length of winning Superbowl XXXIV against the Rams.
7. Donovan McNabb
Rush Yards: 3,400
Rushing Touchdowns: 28
In a league where Donovan McNabb has had very little recent success, and the conversation remains squarely stuck on Mike Shanahan and T.O.'s questions about his fitness and endurance, new fans would not expect McNabb to feature on this list.
However, those who have followed Donovan since his early years will know that he most definitely had the skills to elude some of the best defenses in the league, evidenced by his 629 rushing yards in 2000, at the time the 4th-highest total in league history by a quarterback.
It's seems that with McNabb, as he developed into an elite QB, his rushing became less frequent, culminating in a Superbowl appearance in 2004.
6. Bobby Douglas
Rushing Yards: 2,654
Rushing Touchdowns: 22
Bobby Douglass is credited with being one of the most elusive QBs to play the game, but, unfortunately for Douglass, his questionable passing abilities resulted in little success. He is talented enough, however, to have held the record for most QB rushing yards in a season for 34 years (968 yards and 8 touchdowns on 141 carries) until being eclipsed by a man named Mike Vick.
Between 1971-1975, Douglass played in 47 games, racking up 2,040 rushing yards, an average of 43.4 rushing yards per game, placing him second behind Randall Cunningham. Douglass' name has begun to fade as his records have been laid to rest, but for a significant amount of time, he was the man when it came to elusiveness.
5. Steve Young / John Elway
Rushing Yards: 3,407
Rushing Touchdowns: 33
Big John Elway had the versatility and sheer competitiveness to land him at No. 6 on this list, tied with Steve Young. Elway may not have had the natural rushing ability of a Mike Vick, but he got it done anyway. He lead the Bronco's to two Super Bowls, playing some of the most exciting football in the process. There's no denying the highlight reel Elway has produced on the gridiron over the years, as is evidently clear in the video above. If that's not enough, the man has four rushing TDs in four different Super Bowls!
Rushing Yards: 4,239
Rushing Touchdowns: 43
My other No. 6 most elusive QB is fellow Hall of Famer Steve Young, who ranks third in all-time QB rushing yards. He has a career high of 102 yards on eight carries in a late December game against the Saints in 1990. Though a talented scrambler, Young himself said, "You scramble to buy enough time to pass the ball," which is the main difference between him and the rest of the guys on this countdown.
Both Young and Elway has serious scrambling talent, but they were also two of the most prolific passers in the game and that is what many believe won them their Super Bowls.
4. Roger Staubach
Rush Yards: 2,264
Rushing Touchdowns: 20
Captain America, Roger Staubach, was the quintessential QB, at least in the eyes of Dallas Cowboys fans, past and present, a man whom Tom Landry referred to as "possibly the best combination of a passer, an athlete and a leader to ever play in the NFL."
The Heisman-winning Vietnam veteran and two-time Super Bowl champion had undeniable talent, which manifested itself through the scrambling ability that earned him the nickname "Roger the Dodger".
He is also widely considered as being one of the most upstanding men to ever play the position.
3. Fran Tarkenton
Rush Yards: 3,674
Rushing Touchdowns: 32
Tarkenton was one of the forefathers of QB scrambling in the modern game, earning the nicknames "The Mad Scrambler," "Frantic Fran," and "Scramblin' Fran" because he would often run around in the backfield to avoid getting sacked.
Tarkenton ran for a TD in 15 different seasons, still a record, and is one of only two NFL quarterbacks to rush for at least 300 yards in seven different seasons. While he racked up the rushing yards and is considered a Vikings great, Tarkenton never could get it done on the grandest stage, leading to criticism about his scrambling and sparking arguments with coach Norm Van Brocklin.
His name has somewhat been forgotten as his records have been eclipsed, but you've got to respect a guy who lead the way for scrambling football with the ever important 'ability to extend the play' that is so heralded today.
Not bad for a guy playing in icy Minnesota.
2. Randall Cunningham
Rush Yards: 4,928
Rushing Touchdowns: 35
His nickname says it all: "The Ultimate Weapon"
If ever there was QB deserving that title, it's Cunningham. He epitomizes the human highlight reel, producing some jaw-droppingly dynamic football and extravagant acrobatics.
He may not have championships under his belt, but that's not what this countdown has been about. Cunningham has clocked in at No. 2 on this list due to pure elusiveness. With a body like rubber, Cunningham had the ability to make people miss. Simply put, people couldn't catch him.
However, this elusiveness came at a price, as Cunningham was called selfish because of his tendency to go at it alone. In order to take Minnesota to within a field goal of the Super Bowl he had to tone down his running game significantly.
While Cunningham never really mastered the pocket, he was spectacular to watch, and that's what this list is looking for.
1. Mike Vick
Rush Yards: 4,630
Rushing Touchdowns: 32
Mike Vick is the hottest property in the NFL right now. Sorry Aaron Rodgers, but there's one QB on everyone's lips following the 2010 season and that's Vick.
From when he took the reins from Kevin Kolb in the first game of the season, through to the "Miracle at New Meadowlands," the Eagles organization and the rest of the NFL-watching public fell in love with the resurgent Vick.
Let's not forget his time in Atlanta however, as that's where he set the NFL single-season record for rushing yards by a QB with 1,039. He sits second overall in career QB rushing yards, a record he should easily hold before he retires.
As it stands, Vick holds several NFL quarterback rushing records, including most rushing yards in one game (173), most 100-yard rushing games (8), and the aforementioned most rushing yards in a single season (1,039).